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Kindness should apply to not only strangers whom you know a little - believe me: they are many - but also to the unknowns. Be nice, to those whom you care about, but remember - meanwhile - to be nicer to those whom you don't think care about you. Being nice, and kind, makes this planet a better place to live: in, for, and to.
Be nice to the florist, the one who saves you thousands of apologetic words and useless poems, the one who is full of colours and aromas. Thank his or her hands, which are always full of soil and dirt, thank him for being the most romantic shopkeeper in the entire neighbourhood.
Be kind, to the bartender, the little one among them, the 23-year-old, the part-time student, and part-time caretaker of you - and others - in those dark nights when you miss true friends, when she comes with that genuine and precious smile that your soul craved for since ages ago. She puts a lot of labour behind that smile. Respect the effort she pays while you only see the tip of the iceberg: how much pain she hides.
Be considerate to fellows at workplace, especially those who are grumpy all the time. You don't know what days they were passing through, difficulties they had to deal with, and hardships they are confronted by in their miserable grumpy lives: loans to pay back, aggressive partners to live with, abusive parents and bullied as kids in the childhood, and many haunted ghosts keep chasing them days and nights.
Be a friend to your ageing neighbours, the lovely old husband and the wife, the ones who spent their lives raising three kids: a doctor, a dentist, and a nurse. The three whom you don't see, except at Christmas. Be nice to the two of them: not only during the merry seasons, but throughout the year. Surprise them from time to time. Offer to mow the lawn and accept the joy in their eyes as the price.
Be respectful to the trees, the air, and water in the Leith. Before you print words in a postcard and send them as a gift to your lovely family, friends, and kids, remember the harm we cause to other creatures, too.
Be merciful to animals and little beasts, whom we think are guests in our planet, not equally genuine owners, and shareholders, too. Be gentle with dogs and cats, not only the fluffy and cute ones, those continually showered with love, kisses, and hugs, but also to the old, ugly, and stray: the ones whom no-one else cares about or offers love to. They are similarly in need and crave love, just as everyone else.
Be grateful and accept the small - and free - gifts offered by life, the gifts that come without much planning or efforts. Accept and be grateful for such countless blessings of God: the blessings which we do not see until we are stripped of them. Be grateful for the free smiles of strangers who pass by silently across the street, and remember those who have no-one to smile at them.
Be nice: it costs you little. Be exceptionally nice to those whom you think don't deserve it: they are the most in need for niceness. Be nice to those who constantly prove they don't deserve love: your goodness will strike their hearts, shake up their worlds, and overwhelm their souls. I promise they will not change overnight to be better people, but you will.
Be good to yourself and never treat yourself as a known one. Self is the greatest unknown of all strangers whom you might pass by. Be nice to that self and other selves as well. Treat yourself with love and care: the care that only you deserve, and the love that everyone else might abuse. Find the right words, talk to your heart, and inner organs too. Trust me, they will speak back and let you know how much you didn't know.
Be bold, admit your mistakes and ask for forgiveness, not only from Almighty the Lord but also from those who are almighty in their own ways: the ones whose hearts you cruelly broke and carelessly made sad. Apologise today. They are not eternal, nor you: one of you will be gone before you regret having wasted a chance to say: I'm sorry for being that bad person one day.
Be happy, and make others happy, too.
Happiness is the treat that breaks out like a topical disease among those who are not immune against it. Be the carrier, be the one to be blamed for spreading such a sickness.
Breathe deeply, as if it is your last breath, before you cross the last red tape in your life, and keep things intact: you might need them when you come back again.
-Aladdin Shamoug is a PhD student in the department of information science at the University of Otago.